Updates: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – reactions in Estonia

In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Estonian World brings you the latest reactions from Estonia – one of the few NATO member states that is bordering with Russia. For updates from April, March and February, please see a separate article.

29 November 2022 – Estonia’s Milrem to deliver 14 THeMIS UGVs to Ukraine

Estonian robotics and autonomous systems developer Milrem and the German defence company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann have signed a contract to deliver 14 THeMIS unmanned ground vehicles to Ukraine. Of the 14 vehicles, seven will be configured for casualty evacuation and are scheduled to be delivered by the end of this year. The other seven, to be delivered in the second quarter of 2023, will be configured for route clearance with payloads from the French defence manufacturer CNIM Systèmes Industriels. The effort is being funded by the German defence ministry.

Milrem's THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle is the centre of the system to be created for the iMUGS project. Photo by Milrem.
Milrem’s THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle. Photo by Milrem.

29 November 2022 – €2 coins dedicated to Ukraine enter circulation

The Bank of Estonia is issuing on 29 November two million €2 coins with a special design dedicated to Ukraine and freedom, through banks and retail outlets, BNS reported. The coin can also be bought for charitable purposes as a commemorative product on a coin card, as the proceeds from the sales will go to support the Ukrainian fight for freedom.

“The €2 coin dedicated to Ukraine will from today start to reach people throughout Estonia and elsewhere in Europe through shops. This coin reminds people that freedom is the highest value and it comes at a very high price. Ukraine is currently fighting a war at the cost of the lives of its own people for the shared values of the European cultural space, and it is up to us to keep supporting them in this,” the governor of the Estonian central bank, Madis Muller, said. 

Estonia's €2 coins with a special design dedicated to Ukraine and freedom. Screenshot from the website of the Bank of Estonia.
Estonia’s €2 coins with a special design dedicated to Ukraine and freedom. Screenshot from the website of the Bank of Estonia.

29 November 2022 – Glory to Ukraine stamp selected as the most remarkable stamp of 2022

As per tradition, a postage stamp emission committee in Estonia has selected the most remarkable postage stamp from the ones issued in the country this year, and this time, the postage stamp of the year is the Glory to Ukraine postage stamp, BNS reported. The postage stamp of the year carries a message of peace, symbolised by a peace dove against the background of the colours of the Ukrainian flag. The stamp features the text “Glory to Ukraine!” in Ukrainian, and “Estonia supports Ukraine” in Estonian. The design of the postage stamp was created by Omniva in cooperation with the advertising agency Utopia.

Estonia's Glory to Ukraine postal stamp. Screenshot from the Omniva website.
Estonia’s Glory to Ukraine postal stamp. Screenshot from the Omniva website.

29 November 2022 – Estonia’s defence minister: Russian military not significantly weakened by nine months of war

Estonia’s defence minister Hanno Pevkur told the German news agency dpa that the war against Ukraine that has lasted for nine months has not critically weakened the Russian armed forces, according to BNS. “We have to be honest and clear: the Russian Navy and Air Force are more or less as big as they were before the war,” Pevkur told dpa during a visit to Berlin. Although the Russian land forces have lost considerable strength, they would “sooner rather than later” have the size they used to have before the war – or even larger, Pevkur said.

Zhytomyr, Ukraine, after a Russian missile attack. Photo by Slava Ratynski.

29 November 2022 – Estonian foreign minister and his Nordic and Baltic colleagues visit Kyiv

The Estonian foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu visited Kyiv today with his colleagues from Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland in a show of support to Ukraine. Reinsalu, who organised the joint visit, said its aim was to recognise Ukraine for its continued fight for freedom and democracy. “By being here today, we would like to assure Ukraine that we stand with them in solidarity. We will continue supporting Ukraine militarily, economically and politically,” Reinsalu said in a statement.

The minister added that this winter will be very difficult for Ukraine because Russia is systematically destroying civilian infrastructure, including power stations. “It is truly significant that we start our visit with our Nordic and Baltic colleagues from the headquarters of Ukraine’s electricity transmission system operator UkrEnergo, as its systems have sustained great damage under Russia’s deliberate and inhuman barrage. Russia is weaponising civilian energy security and it is truly shameful,” he said.

Reinsalu emphasised that to help people survive the winter, it was crucial to assist Ukraine in restoring its infrastructure now, as Russia continues its missile attacks.

Tobias Billström, Gabrielius Landsbergis, Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Urmas Reinsalu, Dmytro Kuleba, Pekka Haavisto, Edgars Rinkēvičs and Anne Beathe Tvinnereim – the Swedish, Lithuanian, Icelandic, Estonian, Ukrainian, Finnish, Latvian and Norwegian foreign ministers, respectively, in Kyiv on 28 November 2022. Photo by Kiur Kaasik.

28 November – A Ukraine information centre opens in Tartu

A Ukraine information centre has opened its doors at 17 Ülikooli Street in Tartu, Estonia’s second largest town. Operated by the town government, the centre assists Ukrainian war refugees and coordinates the necessary activities with partners.

The centre’s coordinators are tasked with advising people via the information line and on the spot, providing information on the initiatives and activities of organisations assisting refugees, coordinating instruction in the Estonian language, supporting refugees in using digital solutions, providing information on services and support for refugees, including organising information sessions for both refugees and the specialists working with them. In addition, the coordinators manage social media and online communication related to the refugees, including identifying and refuting possible misinformation.

The Ukraine information centre is open on weekdays: Mon 1 pm – 7 pm, Tue 10 am – 6 pm, Wed 10 am – 6 pm, Thu 1 pm – 7 pm, Fri 10 am – 4 pm. Information lines: +372 5918 2057 and +372 5919 9067.

The Ukraine information centre in Tartu.

27 November 2022 – Estonian bus carrying Ukrainian military crashes in Latvia

An Estonian passenger bus crashed in a head-on collision with a truck in Ainazhi, Latvia, on Saturday; the bus was carrying members of the Ukrainian armed forces, BNS reported. In the accident, the driver of the bus, operating a charter for the Estonian defence forces, died.

“One member of the defense forces of Estonia was injured in the accident and was taken to a hospital for a check-up. The condition of that person is not life-threatening. The rest of the passengers injured in the accident are members of the Ukrainian armed forces, who have also been hospitalised. The Latvian police are working to find out the exact causes of the accident,” the military spokespeople in Tallinn said, according to BNS. The Estonian defense forces will not disclose more details about the activities of the members of the Ukrainian armed forces in Estonia.

Latvian police informed BNS that a criminal investigation had been opened in connection with the accident. The police named bad weather as one of the possible reasons for the accident. The Latvian Fire and Rescue Service previously said that the driver of the Estonian bus was killed and three people were hospitalized in serious condition, while another 23 people suffered less serious injuries. The accident that happened at around 7:20 PM on Saturday on the Riga-Ainazhi highway involved several vehicles.

27 November 2022 – Reinsalu: Holodomor directly connected to current events

The Estonian foreign minister, Urmas Reinsalu, said yesterday, on Holodomor Memorial Day that Holodomor, a large-scale famine caused by the Soviet Union in Ukraine in the 1930s, has a direct connection to Russia’s current war of aggression in Ukraine, BNS reported.

“Today, we commemorate the victims of the genocide, the great famine Holodomor. Unfortunately, it has a direct connection to this day, as millions of Ukrainians are fighting for their lives and their loved ones. Russia’s aggression has a strong impact on many regions outside Europe. Russia’s war affects food security, drives up food prices, increases hunger and exacerbates suffering. It is the duty of the international community to provide Ukraine with comprehensive support until it has won the war, and to make sure no crime committed in Ukraine goes unpunished.”

The Holodomor, or the Great Famine, was a man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine from 1932 to 1933 that killed millions of Ukrainians.

Starved peasants on a street in Kharkiv, Ukraine, 1933. Public domain.

25 November 2022 – Estonia to finance the construction of a kindergarten in Ovruch

The Estonian Center for International Development Cooperation today signed a contract with Harmet, the largest manufacturer of modular buildings in Estonia, initiating the construction of a kindergarten in the town of Ovruch, Ukraine, BNS reported. Harmet secured the public contract worth €1.7 million for the construction of a four-classroom kindergarten, and will work to design, manufacture, transport and assemble the kindergarten. 

The modular kindergarten, which is to be ready within 170 calendar days of the conclusion of the contract, will be Estonia’s first reconstruction project in Ukraine. Ukraine’s ambassador to Estonia, Mariana Betsa, who attended the ceremony of signing the contract, said Estonia was the first country to begin rebuilding Ukraine’s Zhytomyr region.

Harmet’s modular kindergarten. Photo by Harmet.

25 November 2022 – Estonia’s humanitarian aid to Ukraine worth over €23 million

According to the Estonian foreign minister, Urmas Reinsalu, the country has now provided Ukraine with humanitarian aid worth around €23.1 million, including €4.1 million in public sector support.

22 November 2022 – Estonia’s PM: Russia never to be perceived again as reliable partner by the world

Russia will never be a reliable partner again in the eyes of the rest of the world, the Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, said, giving an overview to the parliament of the government’s activities in implementing the European Union policy, BNS reported.

“Estonia together with its allies on Europe’s eastern flank have been on the forefront of supporting Ukraine and putting up international resistance, both in words as well as by setting an example personally and demonstrating steadfastness. We don’t know how and when this war will end but we know how it won’t end. It will not end with Russia winning,” Kallas said.

“Without legal assessment and responsibility, there is no hope of achieving fair and lasting peace. Russia must compensate the damage it has done to Ukraine, and its war and aggression crimes must be punished. … The unity and solidarity of the European Union as well as its leadership has been of key importance in mobilizing the entire western world against Russia.”

Kaja Kallas at a NATO summit in Madrid, 30 June 2022. Photo by Stenbock House.

22 November 2022 – Estonia donates 27 buses to Ukraine

The Estonian government will send 27 buses to Ukraine to help restore transport services, the country’s foreign ministry said. The government has previously donated 17 buses to the Butsha region and Zhytomyr oblast in Ukraine. The additional buses are scheduled to be sent to Ukraine in November and December.

One of the buses donated to Ukraine by the Estonian government. Photo by the Estonian foreign ministry.

20 November 2022 – The Estonian Lions clubs to send power generators to Ukraine

As part of the “Light and heat for Ukraine” campaign, initiated by the Estonian Lions District, 13 electric generators have been bought to help schools and children’s institutions operating in shelters in Ukraine, which will be dispatched to Ukraine in the next few days, BNS reports. According to the governor of the Estonian Lions District, Alar Rästa, the latest reports from Ukraine are again quite horrific. As a result of missile strikes, the electricity supply has been severely affected, increasing the demand for power generators. 

“The Ukrainian Lions approached us with an urgent request for generators more powerful than usual to be used in schools and children’s institutions operating in shelters in the dark and cold. The Estonian Lions have collected donations and have purchased 13 power generators to date, which will be sent to Ukraine in the coming days,” Rästa told BNS. With 1,200 members, the Estonian Lions District is the largest charity organisation in Estonia.

17 November 2022 – Tallinn to donate four ambulance vehicles to Ukraine

The Tallinn city council decided on Thursday to donate four fully equipped ambulance vehicles to Ukraine. Two of the ambulances will soon reach Ukraine via the Estonian foreign ministry and two more will be donated to the city of Lviv, BNS reported.

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 319 ambulances donated to Ukraine previously belonged to the Tallinn ambulance service and were no longer in everyday use. The city of Tallinn has already donated two ambulances to Ukraine in the past, along with 50 laptops to a school in the city of Zhytomyr, sent humanitarian aid to Lviv and Kyiv, financially supported the Ukrainian Red Cross, and provided necessary spare parts to the water company of the city of Chernivtsi.

17 November 2022 – Estonian aid organisation collects donations to restore homes in Ukraine

The Estonian aid organisation, Mondo, is calling on the people and companies of Estonia to support the reconstruction of war-affected areas in Ukraine so that residents of liberated villages and towns can return home, BNS reports. Doors, windows and roofing materials are mainly needed to restore and insulate homes that have been rendered uninhabitable. Donations of any size are very welcome. According to the approximate prices of building materials in Ukraine, a door costs €250, a window costs €300 and roofing material costs €700.

Mondo will direct the collected donations to its local partner in Ukraine. Dobrobat brings together over 38,000 volunteers and aims to rebuild villages, towns and infrastructure destroyed by Russian forces. Dobrobat has already restored three houses in Horenka and Hostomel in the Kyiv region with the financial support of Mondo. Mondo plans to continue and expand its support for reconstruction works.

A lone resident in a residential building destroyed by Russian shelling in Ukraine. Photo by Mikhail Palinchak.

15 November 2022 – Reinsalu: NATO will defend its territory

After the reports today that suspected Russian missiles landed in the Polish territory and killed two people, the Estonian foreign minister, Urmas Reinsalu, issued a statement: “It is an extremy serious incident. We are in active communication with Poland to find out more details about today’s events. Understandably, NATO will defend every inch of its territory and Estonia’s commitment to collective defence is unwavering. We are consulting with our allies about a united and resolute response.”

15 November 2022 – Ukrainian service members to be trained in Estonia

At a discussion on the launch of the European Union Military Assistance Mission in Support of Ukraine, which was central to a meeting of European Union defense ministers in Brussels on Tuesday, the EU member states were called to provide training to the Ukrainian defense forces throughout the territory of the EU, BNS reported. “We welcome the launch of the EU training mission and we are of course ready to contribute to it. We have already started training Ukrainian soldiers in Estonia and will continue to train Ukrainian soldiers in the territory of Estonia in the framework of the European Union mission,” the Estonian defense minister, Hanno Pevkur, said.

A 4×4 supplied to Ukraine’s military by an Estonian NGO, United Delivery Mission.

14 November 2022 – Estonia: Europe must do more to contribute to Ukraine’s victory

According to BNS, in his remarks at a meeting of the Council of Foreign Affairs of the European Union in Brussels on Monday, where several topics related to assistance to Ukraine and its EU candidate status were discussed, the Estonian foreign minister, Urmas Reinsalu, said Europe must contribute more to Ukraine’s victory. He pointed out it was crucial to help Ukraine prepare for the upcoming winter and protect the energy infrastructure that Russia is now systematically trying to destroy. Reinsalu added that it was especially important to send anti-aircraft weapons and munitions, as well as long-range missiles to Ukraine.

“My message at today’s meeting was that Europe as a whole needs to change its way of thinking. Our approach to what is happening in Ukraine does not have to be reactive, and we need to do more now to contribute to Ukraine’s victory. We need to formulate very clearly within the European Union what Ukraine’s path towards accession to the European Union will be like in the near future,” Reinsalu said. “I also proposed that EU countries should contribute at least one percent of their gross domestic product to supporting Ukraine. Ukraine’s GDP is only one percent of that of the European Union, but Ukraine bears the main burden of repelling the aggression, fighting for European values ​​and security.”

Estonian foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu meeting with Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in Kyiv on 3 August 2022. Photo by the Estonian foreign ministry.

14 November 2022 – Over six thousand Ukrainian refugees registered as unemployed in Estonia

As of November 13, altogether 6,208 beneficiaries of international protection linked to Ukraine had registered as unemployed with the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund, accounting for 12.6 percent of all registered unemployed in Estonia, BNS reported. Over the past week from November 7 to 13, altogether 329 Ukrainian refugees registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

During the week, the registered jobless status of 65 beneficiaries of international protection connected with Ukraine was terminated. In the case of 31 of them the jobless status was terminated at their own request and in the case of 33 due to the person having found a job. A total of 8,750 such people have been withdrawn from the unemployment register to date, 6,609 of them due to finding a job.

10 November 2022 – An Estonian hospital donates an ambulance to Ukraine

According to BNS, the hospital of Räpina, a small town in southeastern Estonia, has donated an ambulance van to Ukraine, where the vehicle is already in service transporting wounded personnel.

The Volkswagen Transporter Syncro ambulance vehicle was donated to Ukraine via the United Delivery Mission, a non-profit organisation operating in southern Estonia. The four-wheel-drive vehicle, which is intended for use mainly in rural areas, rolled off the assembly line 1997 and has done 300,000 kilometres (186,000 miles). As the vehicle is primarily intended for the transportation of patients on a stretcher, it has only been needed up to four times a year.

The hospital of Räpina, a small town in southeastern Estonia, has donated an ambulance van to Ukraine.

9 November 2022 – Estonian town of Võru to help its Ukrainian twin town pay for a generator

According to BNS, the council of the southeastern Estonian town of Võru on Wednesday adopted a supplementary budget in order to allocate €22,000 for the purchase of a generator for its Ukrainian twin city Kaniv. The Võru town government received a request for help from Kaniv to support it with a powerful generator to keep the town’s water supply running in case of power outages. The generator costs an estimated €45,000.

7 November 2022 – Estonia working to find out exact number of Ukrainian war refugees

BNS is reporting that as of today, 61,497 of the people who had fled the war in Ukraine to Estonia had said they wanted to stay in Estonia, but this figure may not coincide with the actual number of Ukrainian refugees staying in Estonia, the minister of social protection, Signe Riisalo, told lawmakers. According to surveys, 81% of the refugees want to return to Ukraine, but not within the next three months, Riisalo said.

Of the refugees currently in Estonia, 22,768, or 37%, do not have temporary protection. “These are people who can manage on their own, who do not need the help and support of the Estonian state,” the minister said, according to BNS. A total of 38,729 people have received temporary protection, which equals 63% of all those who have expressed the desire to stay in Estonia.

Ukrainian refugees at a refugee centre in Tallinn. Photo by Mats Õun, Pealinn.

3 November 2022 – Tallinn donates four ambulances to Ukraine

The Tallinn City Government is planning to transfer two city-owned ambulances free of charge to the foreign ministry for humanitarian aid to Ukraine and two more ambulances to Tallinn’s partner city Lviv. The city of Tallinn also decided to allocate €44,000 to support municipalities in the Zhytomyr Oblast of Ukraine.

1 November 2022 – Estonian company provides a ticketing solution for the Ukrainian capital

Estonian company Ridango has provided the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, with a swipe payment solution for ground public transport.

26 October 2022 – A Ukrainian in Estonia: Estonian is not as scary as it seems

Ukrainian Dmytro, who arrived in Estonia before the war broke out, shares his experience on the main challenges about living in Estonia and how to cope with life in the country. “I am studying international business management at TalTech. However, I am already significantly older than students usually are.” 

Like many others, he became familiar with Estonia through the e-residency programme. When he had achieved virtual contact with the country, Dmytro decided to move to Estonia for real and chose a specialty he liked to study at TalTech, Tallinn University of Technology.

“I do not agree, for example, that Estonians are emotionless people. People who love to sing cannot be considered unemotional. And I also like the subtle sense of humor that most Estonians have. I don’t want to say anything bad, but if I have to point out something negative in addition to the positive, it is high taxes”.”By the way, I would recommend not being afraid of learning Estonian. It’s not easy, but it’s also not as scary as it seems at first glance.”

Dmytro in front of TalTech in Tallinn. Photo by New in Estonia.

26 October 2022 – the rise of Eastern Europe

Aure, a 28-year-old blogger from Belgium, analyses how the Ukrainian war inverted the power dynamics in the European Union.

Gitanas Nausėda, Andrzej Duda, Volodymyr Zelensky, Egils Levits and Alar Karis, the Lithuanian, Polish, Ukrainian, Latvian and Estonian presidents respectively, in Kyiv on 13 April 2022.

21 October 2022 – Estonia’s e-Governance Academy to lead a €10 million EU cyber security project in Ukraine

The EU will support Ukraine to strengthen the country’s cybersecurity. The objective of the special project, worth over €10 million, is to provide a rapid response to Ukrainian cybersecurity and data security needs. The e-Governance Academy from Estonia is the implementer of the project, the Tallinn-based think tank said in a statement.

“We are witnessing how the cyberspace is also battlefield. The European Union supports Ukraine in securing its cyberspace because it has a significant influence on the stability of the country and its citizens’ lives. Digital services and remote service provision are vitally important right now,” Matti Maasikas, the Head of the European Union’s delegation to Ukraine, noted.

The EU supports the Ukrainian secure data exchange platform Trembita and management of government registers, including identification and neutralisation of possible cyber threats. Secondly, the EU helps protect critical infrastructure and government data, including replacement of destroyed hardware. The EU also provides protection equipment enabling operational staff to support and maintain critical government infrastructure.

“Our teams in Estonia and Ukraine are working with huge dedication and passion to provide the vital and critical resources as quickly as possible to Ukrainian counterparts. During the six months, we have delivered the most critical resources to Ukraine, and it has kept digital Ukraine online,” Hannes Astok, the e-Governance Academy’s executive director, said.

18 October 2022 – The Estonian parliament declares Russia a terrorist regime

The Estonian parliament today adopted with 88 votes a statement in which it condemned the annexation of the territories of Ukraine and declared Russia a terrorist regime.

In the statement, the parliament strongly condemns the military actions of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and the illegal annexation of the territories conquered during the aggression and declares that Estonia will never recognise the violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine through aggressions and sham referenda. “Violation of law can never create law. Putin’s regime with its threats of nuclear attack has turned Russia into the biggest danger to peace both in Europe and in the whole world,” the statement says.

In the statement, the parliament also condemns the using of armed groups established with the support of the Russian authorities in the aggression and considers it necessary to declare the armed forces of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics established by the Russian Federation as well as the Wagner private military company as terrorist organisations.

Kharkiv, Ukraine, on 1 March 2022, after Russian attack. Photo by Pavel Dorogoy.

12 October 2022 – Estonia’s defence expenditure to be 3% of the GDP by 2024

The Estonian parliament discussed the national security today. The country’s defence minister, Hanno Pevkur, said Estonia’s defence expenditures will be 2.85% of GDP in 2023 and will exceed the 3% level for the first time in 2024.

12 October 2022 – Estonian volunteers make camouflage netting for the Ukrainian military

Under the leadership of the NGO Aitan Kaitsta (Helping Protect), volunteers from all over Estonia have prepared and sent more than 10,000 square metres (2.5 acres) of camouflage netting to the defenders of Ukraine. This amount could cover the town hall squares of both Tallinn and Tartu at the same time. 

The initiative says what it’s made so far “is a great achievement, but this does not mean that everything always goes smoothly. The biggest concern at the moment is the lack of warm and freely accessible spaces.” “We invite all to support the community and send information about suitable locations so that volunteers have a place to make camouflage netting in every Estonian town and village,” Jaana Ratas, the author of the idea behind Aitan Kaitsta, said.

Under the leadership of the NGO Aitan Kaitsta (Helping Protect), volunteers from all over Estonia have prepared and sent more than 10,000 square metres (2.5 acres) of camouflage netting to the defenders of Ukraine. Photo by Mark Raidpere.

11 October 2022 – Estonian MPs want to declare Russia a terrorist state

Today, 85 members of the 101-strong Estonian parliament submitted a draft statement for legislative proceeding, condemning the annexation of the territory of Ukraine and declaring Russia a terrorist regime.

In the draft statement, the MPs condemn the military actions of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and the illegal annexation of the territories conquered during the aggression and avows that Estonia will never recognise the violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine through aggressions or sham referenda.

“Violation of law can never create law. Putin’s regime with its threats of nuclear attack has turned Russia into the biggest danger to peace both in Europe and in the whole world,” the draft reads.

“Supporting the call of the Parliament of Ukraine to countries and international organisations, the [Estonian parliament] declares Russia a terrorist regime and the Russian Federation a country that supports terrorism, whose actions we must confront together. The [Estonian parliament] calls on the international community to adopt similar declarations,” the draft says.

The draft statement also supports the request to strip the Russian Federation of its status of a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

The opening session of the 14th parliament of Estonia. Photo by Erik Peinar.

8 October 2022 – Estonia is sending Ukraine more ammunition and equipment

The Estonian defence ministry said the government’s next aid package to Ukraine will include artillery ammunition, anti-tank ammunition, winter uniforms and armoured vests. The anti-tank weaponry is due to be replaced with a new weapons system, for which the first deliveries will be made in December. The personal protective equipment comes from the Estonian Defence League stocks, which in three to five months will be replaced with more modern options. Estonia is also planning a new training programme for Ukrainian reservists and medics.

To date, Estonia has provided military aid to Ukraine worth €255 million, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, howitzers, anti-tank mines, anti-tank grenade launchers, mortars, ammunition, vehicles, communication devices, medical equipment and supplies, personal protective equipment as well as military food rations. Through the European Peace Facility, Estonia will receive €135 million in reimbursement from the EU.

In cooperation with Germany, Estonia has donated two field hospital and medical equipment to Ukraine in the value of €10 million. The second hospital reached Ukraine in September and the project also received support from the NGO Slava Ukraini in the sum of €120,000.

The first Javelin anti-tank missiles, donated by Estonia, arrived in Ukraine on 18 February 2022. Photo by Estonian Defence Forces.

5 October 2022 – An Estonian charity is collecting money to buy winter clothes for the Ukrainian military

Estonian charity Slava Ukraini (Glory to Ukraine) is collecting money to buy the Ukrainian military personnel winter clothes.

The initial goal of the campaign, “1,000 Heroes in the Snow”, was to provide a thousand Ukrainian service members warm winter clothing. However, the campaign collected the needed €400,000 in one day, and due to the great interest of donors, the charity is doubling the amount of money – the new goal is to collect €800,000 and buy winter equipment to a total of 2,000 service members.

Estonian charity Slava Ukraini (Glory to Ukraine) is collecting money to buy the Ukrainian military personnel winter clothes. Photo: screenshot from the campaign website.
Estonian charity Slava Ukraini (Glory to Ukraine) is collecting money to buy the Ukrainian military personnel winter clothes. Photo: screenshot from the campaign website.

4 October 2022 – Estonia’s defence minister: We have more allied firepower than ever before

The Estonian defence minister, Hanno Pevkur, said in an interview with Estonian World that there was more allied firepower in the country than ever before, and the country is properly defended so that the Estonian people can sleep in peace.

3 October 2022 – Estonia summons Russian ambassador to condemn the annexation of Ukrainian territory

The Estonian foreign ministry on 3 October summoned the Russian ambassador to the country, Vladimir Lipajev, to “strongly condemn the illegal sham referenda in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts and the subsequent annexation of Ukrainian territory”, the ministry said in a statement. The ministry informed the ambassador that Estonia would never recognise the results of these referenda.

3 October 2022 – the Estonian foreign ministry allocates over €300,000 for explosive ordnance disposal equipment to Ukraine

The Estonian foreign ministry is allocating €337,216 to the Estonian Rescue Board to send explosive ordnance disposal equipment to Ukraine and help alleviate the humanitarian crisis there. Due to the Russian invasion, the territory of Ukraine is extensively mined – and land mines and other explosive devices left behind endanger the lives of millions of Ukrainians every day.

“We are responding to Ukraine’s request to send explosive ordnance disposal equipment to reduce the daily risks for people suffering due to the horrors of war and help restore normal living conditions. This way, we can also support reconstruction efforts in anticipation of Ukraine’s victory because removing explosive devices from the ground could take years and it can hinder crucial work on rebuilding what has been destroyed in the war,” foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu said in a statement.

Zhytomyr, Ukraine, after a Russian missile attack. Photo by Slava Ratynski.

3 October 2022 – Nine presidents of the Central and Eastern European NATO member states issue a joint statement in support of Ukraine

Miloš Zeman, Alar Karis, Egils Levits, Gitanas Nausėda, Stevo Pendarovski, Milo Đukanović, Andrzej Duda, Klaus Iohannis and Zuzana Čaputová, the presidents of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, respectively, said in a joint statement, issued on 2 October, that they “cannot stay silent in the face of the blatant violation of international law by the Russian Federation”.

“We reiterate our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We do not recognize and will never recognize Russian attempts to annex any Ukrainian territory. We firmly stand behind the 2008 Bucharest NATO Summit decision concerning Ukraine’s future membership,” the presidents said. At the 2008 Bucharest summit, NATO allies agreed that these countries will become members of the alliance, although without proposing a concrete timetable for the membership; the US advocated a specific date, but was opposed by the UK, Germany and France.

“We support Ukraine in its defence against Russia’s invasion, demand Russia to immediately withdraw from all the occupied territories and encourage all allies to substantially increase their military aid to Ukraine. All those who commit crimes of aggression must be held accountable and brought to justice,” the presidents, who have all visited Ukraine during the Russian invasion, added.

29 September 2022 – Estonia bans natural gas imports and purchases from Russia

The Estonian government today adopted a regulation imposing a sanction on importing and buying natural gas from Russia. The ban also applies to providing associated transmission services, importing liquefied natural gas and buying with the aim of entering it into the transmission and distribution systems. No other restrictions apply to the purchase and import of liquefied gas.

The sanction mainly affects those entrepreneurs whose licence gives them the right to import natural gas or provide transmission services. According to the Estonian economy ministry, there are nine companies with valid gas import licences, and one company with a licence for providing transmission services. The measure does not affect the supplies of household customers, as since April 2022, virtually no natural gas has been imported from Russia to Estonia. 

29 September 2022 – Estonian entrepreneur Ragnar Sass to German startups: support Ukraine

Speaking about his experience in aiding Ukraine at the Bits&Pretzels startup festival in Munich, Germany, the co-founder of Estonian unicorn Pipedrive, Ragnar Sass, invited German startups to do the same.

“There is no doubt that Ukraine will win, but Europe needs to step up its support, especially Germany. We must not forget that Ukraine is fighting for the whole of Europe,” Sass said at the event, arriving directly from Kyiv, after delivering a convoy of SUVs for the Ukrainian military. Sass has so far organised a delivery of over 100 SUVs to more than 50 different units of the Ukrainian army.

Sass said the Ukrainian startups were continuing their work and organising community events despite difficult times. “Ukrainians appreciate seeing foreigners who show up in person to support their events. We should refrain from thinking that the war has brought life to a standstill – this is certainly not the case. Among Ukrainians, Estonia continues to be seen as one of the best places for setting up their company headquarters,” he noted.

Estonia has welcomed over 5,000 e-residents from Ukraine, who have established 1,588 companies in Estonia. As of 2022, Ukrainian citizens are exempt from fees related to the application for e-residency and establishment of a company in Estonia.

Ragnar Sass (right), co-founder of Pipedrive, spoke to 5,000 investors and entrepreneurs in Munich, wearing a uniform gifted by the Ukrainian military. Photo by Felix Bus.

28 September 2022 – Ukrainian nurses given the opportunity to continue working in Estonia

The Tallinn Health Care College has opened a curriculum for the Ukrainian nurses who have escaped their homes and settled in Estonia to obtain a college degree as a nurse. To work in Estonia as a nurse, the person needs a college degree. However, most nurses who have come to Estonia from Ukraine only have a vocational school degree. 

Altogether, 23 Ukrainian nurses are starting their studies that last for two years, plus up to a year for learning Estonian. Since the nurses are studying in Estonian, they will first start learning the language and then move on to the nursing curriculum.

Nurses taking care of a patient with COVID-19 at the North Estonia Medical Centre in Tallinn. Photo by the North Estonia Medical Centre.

27 September – MPs of the Estonian parliament’s foreign affairs committee want to declare Russia a terrorist regime

The MPs of the foreign affairs committee of the Estonian parliament consider it necessary to declare Russia a terrorist regime and the Russian Federation a state supporting terrorism, and want the MPs to initiate a relevant draft statement.

The committee’s chairman, Marko Mihkelson, said the Ukrainian parliament had called on other countries and international organisations to declare Russia a country supporting terrorism, and Estonia should respond to this proposal.

“In our committee, we have unanimously agreed that it is necessary to prepare a draft statement to declare Russia a terrorist regime and the Russian Federation a state supporting terrorism. We must also strongly condemn its activities, including organising of sham referendums in Ukraine,” he said in a statement.

Mihkelson added that the political groups of the Estonian parliament would continue working with the text of the draft statement this week, with the aim of having the draft ready for proceedings in the legislature in the week after the next.

The Estonian MPs have so far issued three statements to condemn the activities of Russia and express support to Ukraine: on 18 January, in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine; on 23 February, on the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine; and on 21 April, on the war crimes and genocide committed by the Russian Federation in Ukraine.

Ukraine during the Russian invasion in spring 2022. Photo by Dmitri Kotjuh.

24 September 2022 – Estonia submits a declaration of intervention to International Court of Justice in the case of Ukraine versus Russia

The Estonian government has submitted a declaration of intervention to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in relation to the dispute between Ukraine and Russia on compliance with the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

“Estonia, along with other parties to the Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide, would like to intervene in the dispute between Ukraine and Russia because Russia’s aggression on the pretext of preventing and punishing genocide has seriously undermined the meaning of such a horrible crime as genocide,” the country’s foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu said in a statement, adding that the court must give an assessment on Russia’s actions and false accusations.

Ukraine turned to the ICJ on 26 February, as Russia justified its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February with the need to “prevent and punish Ukraine for the genocide allegedly committed in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts”. Reinsalu said it was a false pretext for recognising the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts as separate countries. “Russia had no right to invade Ukraine, as there is no substance to Russia’s accusations that Ukraine has committed genocide,” he noted.

Ukraine turned to the ICJ to ask the court to state that there was no evidence of Ukraine committing genocide in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts and that Russia’s aggression in Ukraine on the pretext of preventing genocide is illegal. On 7 March, the court held a hearing, but Russia did not attend the oral proceedings. On 16 March, the ICJ issued a provisional measure, stating that Russia must immediately stop the military aggression it launched on 24 February. Russia has not complied with the decision so far.

The other countries that have filed a declaration of intervention are alongside Estonia are the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, France, New Zealand, Romania and Sweden.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague.

24 September 2022 – Estonia donates 12 buses to the Zhytomyr Oblast in Ukraine

The Estonian government is donating 12 Iveco Irisbus Crossway buses to the Zhytomyr Oblast in Ukraine to help them restore their transport services. The donation was organised by the country’s foreign and economic affairs ministries with the Estonian Transport Administration. The buses are not new but have been properly maintained by Iveco and can stay in service for several more years.

Estonia responded to Ukraine’s appeal to select focus regions in reconstruction assistance and the Zhytomyr Oblast was chosen. “We are grateful to the government, companies and people of Estonia for the invaluable assistance to Ukraine,” the Ukrainian ambassador to Estonia, Mariana Betsa, said in a statement.

Estonia has given Ukraine humanitarian aid worth around €21 million, including €2.2 from the public sector and nearly €18.8 million from the private and third sector. The aid has been diverse – it includes food, temporary shelter, medicines, ambulances, rescue equipment and IT devices.

Buses donated to Ukraine by the Estonian government, on 24 September 2022; photo by the Estonian foreign ministry.

23 September 2022 – Estonian soldier fighting in Ukraine awarded the Ukranian Order for Courage

The first Estonian soldier fighting in Ukraine, German Barinov, has been awarded the Ukrainian Order for Courage by the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, Estonian security expert and MP, Eerik-Niiles Kross, tweeted.

The 25-year-old, from the Estonian town of Pärnu, is fighting against the Russian invasion as a division commander in the Ukrainian Foreign Legion. In June, he gave an interview to the Estonian Public Broadcasting, while he was resting in Estonia after being wounded in Ukraine. “We ran over an anti-tank mine with the car. The car blew up. I was lucky, I only got a fracture on my cheekbone,” Barinov said.

He did his military service in the Estonian Defence Forces, after which he was a member of the country’s Defence League. He then went to travel the world and was in Australia, when the news of the outbreak of war reached him.

“I remember 24 February quite well. I was working as a rescuer in Australia and I heard that war had started. Russia, the second strongest country [by supposed military strenght], was attacking independent Ukraine. Ordinary people, civilians, were killed. Bombs were flying everywhere. Not just in Donbas, but everywhere in Ukraine. When Zelensky announced that a foreign legion was being put together, I just knew in my heart that this was for me, that this was my place,” Barinov noted.

He went to fight in the front at the beginning of March. “We were given trials, tests. They were checking if we were fit for the front. Then, according to our wishes and abilities, we were sent. Those who didn’t fit were offered another option, for example as volunteers or drivers. There were options,” he explained.

Barinov has Ukrainian roots but does not consider himself Ukrainian or Estonian, but Russian. “I would say that I am Russian. I’ve studied at a Russian school, I’m used to Russian society, I have a Russian family. I am still Russian. But here it is more a question of who is to blame for this war. Ukraine did not attack Russia, on the contrary. What matters here is who is the real victim,” he said.

21 September 2022 – Estonian president: Estonia is not directly threatened by Russia’s mobilisation

The Estonian president, Alar Karis, today issued a statement in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s decision to declare a partial mobilisation in Russia.

“Putin’s decision to declare a partial mobilisation is an unequivocal admission: he has been defeated in Ukraine,” the president said, adding that it also means the Russian military’s losses in Ukraine so far have been very heavy.

“The mobilisation also shows that Putin does not want to end the war but wants to continue the war at all costs. Therefore the repressed civil society in Russia has replaced the word ‘mobilisation’ with the word ‘mogilisation’. ‘Mogila’ means grave in Russian,” Karis noted in the statement.

“Democratic Europe, the democratic world, will not be deceived by fake referendums in the territories occupied by Ukraine, nor will it be intimidated by partial mobilisation in Russia. We will stand by our support for Ukraine, and our aim is to make the aggressor pay the price for its actions high enough to end the war.

“Estonia is not directly threatened by Russia’s mobilisation decision at this time. However, the whole world is threatened by a Russia which, even in the 21st century, seeks to use violence and aggression to dictate its neighbours’ foreign and domestic policy choices, and which uses war to attack their territorial integrity,” the president added.

The Estonian president, Alar Karis (left), meeting the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in Kyiv on 22 February 2022. Photo by Mattias Tammet/Estonian President’s Office.

21 September 2022 – Estonia-based Russian citizens fighting against Ukraine will not be allowed back

If it becomes known that those Estonia-based Russian citizens who have a permanent residence permit have been fighting in Ukraine, they will not be allowed back, the Estonian interior ministry’s deputy secretary-general for internal security, Veiko Kommusaar, told the country’s public broadcasting.

“Estonia has not imposed any restrictions on Russian citizens leaving Estonia. If we find out that they have gone to war, they will have no way back to Estonia,” he said via spokesman.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, declared a partial mobilisation on 21 September, citing “a threat” to the country. According to the Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, 300,000 Russian reservists will be mobilised.

21 September 2022 – Over 100,000 Ukrainian refugees have entered Estonia

A total of 100,082 refugees have entered Estonia since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, of whom 56,566 have remained in Estonia, according to the country’s Social Insurance Board. Of the refugees who crossed the Estonian border, 25,235 were minors. Estonia’s total population is about 1.3 million.

A Tallink ferry, moored at the Port of Tallinn, hosts over 1,500 Ukrainian refugees, approximately 40 per cent of them children. Photo by Silver Tambur.

20 September 2022 – Estonia presents the parliament’s statement on Russia’s war crimes to the UN

The Estonian foreign minister, Urmas Reinsalu, yesterday met with UN Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo in New York as part of the opening week of the UN General Assembly’s 77th session. Reinsalu and DiCarlo discussed further support to Ukraine and making sure Russia is held legally responsible for the crimes it has committed in the war. They also spoke about the situation in Belarus.

Reinsalu said Russia had gravely violated international law and human rights and should not feel it has impunity. “In the war that has been raging on for more than six months now, we have seen deliberate attacks and brutal violence against civilians in Ukraine, with no mercy shown even to children, as well as looting, arrests and deportations,” he pointed out. ‘

At the meeting, he formally presented DiCarlo with the statement of the Estonian Parliament on Russia’s war crimes and genocide in Ukraine. Reinsalu said Russia’s actions demonstrated a clear intent to commit genocide against the Ukrainian people, adding that the international community needed to take steps to make sure no crime goes unpunished. This is why it is important to establish a special tribunal to investigate the crimes of aggression organised by Russia’s leadership and ensuring legal accountability.

9 September 2022 – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland stop entry to Russian tourists

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland will bar entry on their external borders for all Russian nationals with a short-stay Schengen visa. The restriction will come into effect in Estonia on 19 September. It will also enter into force in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland no later than that date.

“Together with Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, we decided to introduce common restrictions on tourism for Russian nationals to protect public order and security,” the Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, said. “Russia has brought war to Europe and is using all tools to undermine our societies. As the border states of the EU, we must keep Europe safe. Currently it is not possible to ensure that the Russian citizens entering the EU through Estonia do not pose a security threat. A regional agreement has been reached and now we will continue working towards a tourism restriction on Russian citizens in the entire European Union.”

“Travel to the European Union is a privilege, not a human right. As the people of Ukraine are being tortured, murdered and terrorised, the citizens of the aggressor state should not be able to enjoy the benefits of the free world. We will no longer allow Russian tourists to cross our border, visiting family living in Estonia will remain among exceptions,” Kallas said. This was also underlined in the joint statement of the prime ministers of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

The river Narva separates Estonia (left) and Russia (right); photo by Jaak Kadak.

7 September 2022 – Estonia and Ukraine to strengthen cooperation in developing digital society

Estonia and Ukraine have signed a cooperation agreement in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, to promote an exchange of experiences in the field of digital transformation; the work focuses on cyber security and national digital solutions.

6 September 2022 – Over 5,000 Ukrainian refugee children go to school in Estonia

In September, nearly 230,000 children and young people started or continue their schooling in Estonia, including 5,500 children of Ukrainian war refugees.

25 August 2022 – Estonia gives Ukraine €350,000 from the sales of the two-euro coin card

The Bank of Estonia, the country’s central bank, marked the Ukrainian independence day by transferring the first €354,117 received from sales of the coin card with the two-euro coin dedicated to Ukraine and freedom to the Ukrainian central bank as part of its partnership project. Over 25,000 coin cards have been sold so far.

Purchases of the coin card with the two-euro coin for Ukraine have come most from Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Ukraine, France, Finland, Latvia, Spain, the US, Slovakia and Italy.

The Bank of Estonia put a total of 40,000 coin cards on sale at the start of July at a price of €18, with the sales revenue from them going to support the Ukrainian central bank. 

The specially dedicated coin was designed by a young Ukrainian refugee studying at the Estonian Academy of Arts, Daria Titova, and the coin card was designed by Vladimir Taiger. The two-euro coin with a special design features the words “Slava Ukraini” (“Glory to Ukraine”) and shows a girl as a symbol of tenderness, protecting a bird in her hand.

The Bank of Estonia is transferring all the sales revenue from the coin card, minus the VAT and the costs of the sales channels, to the Ukrainian central bank.

The coin card featuring the two-euro coin dedicated to Ukraine, issued by Estonia’s central bank.

25 August 2022 – The foreign affairs committees of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland visit Ukraine, call for more sanctions against Russia

Delegations from the foreign affairs committees of the parliaments of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland are currently in Ukraine to jointly show their support for Ukraine and to gain a deeper understanding of the current situation of the war there.

“This visit is a demonstration of support for the Ukrainian people who have made enormous sacrifices and continue to do so to preserve their independence, territorial integrity, and democracy. Our goal is to help Ukraine in any way we can to win the war and in dealing with its consequences,” the chairs of the committees, Marko Mihkelson from Estonia, Laima Andrikienė from Lithuania, Rihards Kols from Latvia and Jussi Halla-aho from Estonia said in a statement.

The visiting MPs said the price of the aggression must be raised as high as possible for Russia. “The European Union has adopted seven sanctions packages to put pressure on Russia. The last sanctions package, which entered into force on July 21, banned the import of Russia’s other major export article – Russian gold – and forbade one of Russia’s largest banks – Sberbank – from conducting transactions outside Russia. But this is not enough. We will continue making proposals for strict and efficient sanctions in the next sanctions packages.”

18 August 2018 – Estonia to increase defence aid to Ukraine

Estonian government on 18 August decided on the next aid package to Ukraine, which includes additional lethal aid such as mortars and anti-tank weaponry. In addition, Estonia plans to support the United Kingdom’s initiative on expanding the extent to which they train members of the Ukrainian forces and to send a field hospital to Ukraine in cooperation with Germany.

In addition to weapons and training, Estonia plans to support the medical capabilities of the Ukrainian troops, donating a second field hospital to Ukraine in cooperation with Germany.

In total, Estonia has provided military aid to Ukraine worth of 250 million Euros, which includes Javelin anti-tank missiles, howitzers, anti-tank mines, anti-tank grenade launchers, mortars, various light weapons, ammunition, vehicles, communication devices, medical equipment and supplies, personal protective equipment (helmets, body armour, etc.), as well as military food rations.

Among other weaponry, Estonia has donated anti-tank Javelin missiles to Ukraine.

11 August 2022 – Over 50,000 Ukrainian refugees are in Estonia

According to statistics from the Estonian Social Insurance Board, over 50,000 war refugees from Ukraine have remained in Estonia. A total of 86,768 refugees have entered the country, of whom 36,421 have moved on from Estonia. Of all those who entered the country, over 23,000 were minors.

The statistics by the Social Insurance Board differs from the Estonian Police and Border Guard data – according to the latter, more than 48,000 Ukrainians have fled to Estonia from the war. Out of those, over 31,000 have applied for the temporary residency, the rest have been on transit.

A Tallink ferry hosts over 1,500 Ukrainian refugees, approximately 40 per cent of them children; photo by Andrea Forlani.

3 August 2022 – Estonia has provided Ukraine with €245 million worth of defence assistance

The Estonian government and people have provided Ukraine with humanitarian aid worth nearly €20 million in total, and defence assistance worth almost €245 million – the equivalent of the third of Estonia’s annual defence budget.

3 August – Almost 49,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled to Estonia

More than 48,000 Ukrainians – nearly 3.7% of Estonia’s population – have fled to Estonia from the war. Out of those, over 31,000 have applied for the temporary residency, the rest have been on transit.

3 August 2022 – Estonia’s foreign minister meets Zelensky in Kyiv

Estonian foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu was in Kyiv today to meet with Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, prime minister Denys Shmyhal and speaker of the country’s parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk.

According to Reinsalu, reconstruction of Ukraine must start immediately. “We must stop making promises and get to work,” the foreign minister said in a statement. Reinsalu added that the price of the aggression must be made as severe as possible for Russia. “We will continue making proposals for more severe and efficient sanctions. We must also jointly prevent Russia from evading sanctions,” he said.

In order to reinforce sanctions, the European Union adopted the seventh sanctions package in late July, which included an import ban on gold, the second main export of Russia after energy carriers.

Estonian foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu meeting with Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in Kyiv on 3 August 2022. Photo by the Estonian foreign ministry.

28 July 2022 – Russian citizens can no longer get visas for studying in Estonia

The Estonian government approved a sanction that limits Russian citizens from applying for temporary residence permits or visas for the purpose of studying in Estonia. In addition, the sanction, established by the regulation, specifies that citizens of Russia and Belarus can register short-term employment only if they have a valid visa issued by Estonia.

22 July 2022 – Volunteers in Estonia raise more than €100,000 for Ukrainian drones

An “Adopt A Drone” scheme to buy drones for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, organised by volunteers in Estonia, has raised more than €100,000 from donors in Estonia and around the world.

An “Adopt A Drone” scheme to buy drones for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, organised by volunteers in Estonia, has raised more than €100,000 from donors in Estonia and around the world. Photo by “Adopt A Drone”.

22 July 2022 – 30,000 Ukrainian refugees staying in Estonia

Since the start of the Russian unprovoked war against Ukraine, almost 47,000 Ukrainian war refugees have arrived in Estonia. Over 30,000 of them have stayed in Estonia, while the others were on transit.

5 July 2022 – Estonia’s central bank starts selling the coin card dedicated to Ukraine

Eesti Pank, the country’s central bank, starts selling the coin card featuring the two-euro coin dedicated to Ukraine. The income from the sales will be given to the Ukrainian central bank. The coin was designed by Daria Titova, a young Ukrainian war refugee who is studying at the Estonian Academy of Arts. The special coin features a girl as a symbol of tenderness, protecting a bird in her hand. The design also features an ear of wheat.

The coin card costs 18 euros. Eesti Pank is initially planning to produce 40,000 coin cards but is prepared to increase the number if demand should prove stronger. The coin card goes on sale on 8 July, while the coins with a special design will enter broader circulation at the end of this year. In total two million two-euro coins will be issued.

4 July 2022 – Settle in Estonia programme prepared to provide adaptation training and language courses to 10,000 Ukrainian war refugees

Starting from 4 July, the state-run Settle in Estonia initiative offers free adaption programme for Estonia-based Ukrainian refugees, covering practical topics related to living in the country, and a language course. The adaption programme includes a one-day thematic module and an A1 level language course that runs for three months.

“We are ready to train nearly 10,000 Ukrainians who have arrived in Estonia on topics related to the practical everyday issues of living here, and to offer language training in order to provide basic skills for communication in Estonian,” a representative of the Estonian culture ministry said in a statement.

Similar trainings for foreigners who arrived in Estonia from abroad and received a residence permit or right of residence have been conducted by the state since 2015 as part of the Settle in Estonia adaptation programme. The courses cover topics about legal issues, public services, employment opportunities, residence options and financial operations, as well as healthcare and social support.

Settle in Estonia programme.

28 June 2022 – Report: Working contributes to faster integration of war refugees

According to the Foresight Centre brief report, “Long-Term Prospects of Integration of War Refugees in Estonia”, the experts of integration think the war refugees who have arrived in Estonia are more likely to integrate with the Estonian community than with another language community. Integration would be supported, above all, by a quick entry into the labour market, but experts are more sceptical about the capacity of the Estonian social and education system to provide sufficient support for integration.

“The development of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the associated migration flows and the length of time the refugees will stay in Estonia are unpredictable at the moment,” an expert of the Foresight Centre, Johanna Vallistu, said. “Therefore, we must work to help the refugees return to their homeland, but at the same time we have to be ready that this will not happen very soon. In order for Estonia to be able to cope as a society in this situation, we must quickly try to integrate the refugees into our daily life.”

22 June 2022 – Finnish shipping company uses Russian fuel that comes from Estonia

According to the Swedish media, the Finnish shipping company, Viking Line, is still, four months after the Russian unprovoked invasion against Ukraine started, still using Russian fuel, getting it from an Estonian company. The Swedish television said the Estonian company was called Marine Energy Solutions; 50% of it is owned by a Elena Bobkova and three men – Anatoly Belov, Alexandr Golubev and Vladimir Koginov have each 16.67% stakes.

One of the managers at Viking Line, Ulf Hagström, told the Swedish television that they weren’t informed that the fuel came from Russia. After the TV interview, the shipping company announced that they had contacted the Estonian company to discuss their contract.

MS Viking XPRS, a cruiseferry operating between Helsinki and Tallinn (pictured). Photo by Ad Meskens, shared under CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.

20 June 2022 – Over 43,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Estonia

Estonia has accepted over 43,000 Ukrainian refugees since 22 February. Over 28,000 of them have stayed in Estonia, while the others were on transit.

19 June 2022 – Estonian diplomat: Security is indivisible

The secretary general of the Estonian foreign ministry and a seasoned diplomat, Jonatan Vseviov, delivered the keynote speech at the Western Balkan Digital Security Forum on 15 June where he highlighted that no country in Europe can forget about the war in Ukraine as it is the war for democracy and the rule of law – the basic EU principles. “Security on this continent, and anywhere in the world, is indivisible,” Vseviov emphasised.

The Western Balkan Digital Security Forum was a high-level meeting discussing the EU-supported cybersecurity capacity building efforts implemented by the e-Governance Academy in the Western Balkan. Western Balkan Digital Security Forum discussed cybersecurity in the region and to explore the best practices of the European Union and Estonia.

19 June 2022 – Registration for the Settle in Estonia programme for the Ukrainian war refugees begins

Starting 17 June, registration for a temporary adaptation program for Ukrainian war refugees who have received temporary protection is starting; the Police and Border Guard Board will send a referral letter to the first 2,500 adults who have received temporary protection. The aim of the adaptation program is to support Ukrainian refugees who have been granted temporary protection by providing them with knowledge on issues related to the functioning of the Estonian state and society, daily life, work, study and family. With compulsory basic language learning, the adaptation program ensures the smooth integration of Ukrainians who have fled the war into Estonian society in both the short and long term.

The recipient of temporary protection must register for the programme independently on the Settle in Estonia website. The provider of the one-day training programme of the adaptation program is Expat Relocation Estonia who will train up to 10,000 people during the next six months. The company is a long-term provider of an adjustment programme for those arriving with regular migration, and more than 11,000 people have participated in the programme in the last six years.

19 June 2022 – Nordic foreign affair committee chairs call for more support for Ukraine

The chairs of the foreign affairs committees of the parliaments of Estonia, the Baltic states, the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom and Ireland on 17 June made a joint statement in which they call on speeding up the delivery of military aid to the Ukrainian armed forces, increasing financial support to the Ukrainian government and to neighbouring countries hosting the war refugees, as well as beginning of planning for the long-term reconstruction of Ukraine.

In the statement, the chairs affirm their continuing solidarity with the people of Ukraine and pay tribute to their extraordinary sacrifices in the pursuit of freedom, the territorial integrity of their country and the sovereignty of their democracy. “It is incumbent on us to respond collectively and decisively to a war that seeks to change the status quo through force, and which is already redefining the future of Europe,” they say.

They call on continuing and intensifying the international community’s support to Ukraine – speeding up the delivery of heavy weapons and other military assistance to the Ukrainian armed forces, in addition to increasing financial support to the Ukrainian government for its day-to-day spending and to neighbouring countries hosting nearly five million Ukrainian refugees. “We further call on governments to begin planning, in close cooperation with the government of Ukraine, for the long-term reconstruction of Ukraine,” the statement emphasises.

The statement was signed by the chairs of the foreign affairs committees of the parliaments of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland. The chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Estonian parliament, Marko Mihkelson, signed the statement on behalf of Estonia.

15 June 2022 – Half of Estonian companies see turnover decline due to the war in Ukraine

The confidence of Estonia’s small and medium-sized enterprises has deteriorated sharply because of the war, according to a survey carried out by SEB Bank, an Estonian subsidiary of a Swedish bank operating in Estonia.

15 June 2022 – Over 42,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Estonia

Estonia has accepted over 42,000 Ukrainian refugees since 22 February. Over 27,000 of them have stayed in Estonia, while the others were on transit.

Ukrainian Cultural Day in Tallinn on 29 May 2022.

10 June 2022 – Ten foreign affairs committee chairs call on granting Ukraine the EU candidate status

The chairs of the foreign affairs committees of the parliaments of ten countries and the European Parliament made a joint statement in which they call on granting Ukraine the status of a candidate country for the European Union membership in the forthcoming European Council. The chairs welcome the European Council conclusions on Ukraine adopted on 30 May 2022 and note that the sixth package of sanctions against Russia that cover crude oil and petroleum products delivered from Russia into the member states is a strong signal of European commitment to ending Europe’s energy dependence on Russia and limiting Europe’s susceptibility to energy weaponisation attempts against the bloc.

“Today is a turning point for European history, providing momentum for the EU to exercise a proactive role at regional and global levels and build the Union’s geopolitical power whilst reducing Russia’s influence in EU neighbourhood countries,” they say. The chairs also highlight that the majority of Europeans support Ukraine’s accession to the EU, and an absolute majority of Ukrainians desire Ukraine to join the European Union. “Ukraine is an integral part of Europe, and we must be strong and convincing in our response to Ukraine’s desire to join the Union. We also acknowledge that there are other potential candidates who aspire to join the European Union,” they point out.

The joint statement was signed by the chairs of the foreign affairs committees of the parliaments of Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and the European Parliament. The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Estonian parliament, Marko Mihkelson, signed the statement on behalf of Estonia.

10 June 2022 – Tallinn to have Ukraine Square

The Tallinn’s city government has assigned the name of Ukraine Square to the so far unnamed square in Lembitu Park in the Estonian capital’s city centre. “We will transform the square into an urban symbol of Ukraine’s current tenacious resistance and defence of its independence,” Madle Lippus, a deputy mayor of Tallinn, said in a statement. Lembitu Park is named after an ancient elder and military commander who defended the independence of Estonians against invading crusaders in the 13th century.

Ukraine Square will be located in Lembitu Park in Tallinn city centre.

10 June 2022 – Tallinn starts accepting applications for rent subsidies from the Ukrainian war refugees

The Ukrainian refugees who have been granted temporary protection will be able to apply for rent subsidies in Tallinn, the Estonian capital. The refugees can apply for rent subsidy online (the page currently in Estonian only) and also at the Tallinn Refugee Centre at 2 Niine Street. The application must be accompanied by a copy of the rental contract, a copy of the decision on temporary protection and proof of payment. During working days, there’s also a telephone line at +372 600 0677 where the refugees can receive advice on rent subsidies; the line is open from Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM.

7 June 2022 – Over 41,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Estonia

Estonia has accepted over 41,000 Ukrainian refugees since 22 February. Approximately 27,000 of them have stayed in Estonia, while the others were on transit. 

20 May 2022 – A small Estonian town builds a sand sculpture honouring Zelensky

A small Estonian resort town, Tõrva, located in Valga County in southern Estonia, has built a sand sculpture, honouring the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. The sculpture depicts Zelensky as part of the Statue of Liberty. The sculpture was built by the Ukrainian war refugees who live in the town and it was sponsored by the local entrepreneurs. It took 72 metric tons of sand to erect the sculpture. The town is planning to surround the statue with other sculptures and call the area Freedom Park; the park will stay there until the fall.

A small Estonian resort town, Tõrva, located in Valga County in southern Estonia, has built a sand sculpture, honouring the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo by Egon Bogdanov.
A small Estonian resort town, Tõrva, located in Valga County in southern Estonia, has built a sand sculpture, honouring the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo by Egon Bogdanov.

17 May 2022 – Estonia’s defence chief: Russia doesn’t have the strength to occupy Estonia

The chairman of the Estonian Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Martin Herem said that Russia’s goal was to destroy the economic and political culture of the Western world, but it didn’t have the strength to occupy Eastern Europe or the Baltic states. He said to the Lithuanian Public Broadcasting that Russia is waging a hybrid war against the West through a conventional war in Ukraine. 

“Our economy is under stress, the prices rising, the people’s psyche has been attacked and people are somewhat scared about the refugees,” he told the Lithuanian network. However, he added that Russia can’t occupy the Baltic states or Eastern Europe: “They don’t have the strength for that and I think they don’t want to do it.” Herem also said that Finland and Sweden joining NATO would send a signal to the Russians that they’re not doing it against Russia, but because of Russia.

Martin Herem. Photo by the Estonian foreign ministry.

15 May 2022 – No Ukrainian refugee in Estonia has gotten the promised €900 rent benefit

Even though, according to the law, every Ukrainian war refugee who’s received temporary protection from the Republic of Estonia should receive a €900 rent benefit, the state and the local municipalities haven’t in two months managed to agree on how to pay it and, therefore, no Ukrainian war refugee has received it, Eesti Päevaleht reports. This has created a big problem, according to the newspaper – the refugees can’t move to their own abodes from the hotels and the Tallink cruise ship that accommodates refugees at the Port of Tallinn, as the first month’s rent and the deposit is the hardest to come up with.

13 May 2022 – 1,700 people sign a petition that calls the Russian embassy building in Tallinn’s Old Town to be given the address “Free Ukraine 1”

“It needs to be done because it helps constantly remind the embassy staff and the Kremlin that the war in Ukraine is condemned in democratic societies,” Anne-May Nagel, one of the initiators of the petition and representative of the NGO EstYou, said in a statement.

“The petition does not ask for any of the Old Town streets to be renamed. It is a question of giving a new address to a specific section in front of the embassy building – so that, for example, on the invitation for people coming to the Russian embassy on 9 May (the date Russia celebrates the victory over Nazi Germany) next year, there will be the address ‘Free Ukraine 1’,” Nagel added.

The petition can be viewed and signed by Tallinn residents on the portal rahvaalgatus.ee. An initiative can be submitted to the Tallinn City Government if it has collected at least one per cent of the signatures of the residents of the municipality with the right to vote – about 4,400 signatures. The renaming of a street or a street section of the Russian embassies has already been undertaken in Riga, Vilnius, Warsaw and Prague.

A protest in front of the Russian embassy in Tallinn in late February 2022. Photo by Silver Tambur.

12 May 2022 – Estonia to help rebuild Zhytomyr Oblast in Ukraine

As the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has called on allies to pick the municipalities or regions they could help rebuild, Estonia has accepted Zhytomyr Oblast’s request to concentrate in the post-war rebuilding in that region. The city of Zhytomyr is located 120 kilometres (74 miles) west of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. In 2021, the city’s population was 263,000, the population of the entire oblast – bordering Belarus – is about 1.2 million.

The Estonian foreign ministry has already gotten a list of rebuilding needs from Zhytomyr Oblast and further cooperation will be planned according to it. According to Postimees, a delegation from Zhytomyr will visit Tallinn next week and the officials will go through the plan more precisely.

Zhytomyr Oblast highlighted within the borders of Ukraine. Screenshot from Google Maps.

11 May 2022 – UA War Infographics: Estonia has donated relatively more military aid to Ukraine than any other country

According to UA War Infographics, a Telegram channel that tracks military assistance by various countries, Estonia has donated Ukraine military aid worth one-third of its defence budget.

11 May 2022 – A Tallink ferry accommodates over 1,500 Ukrainian refugees

Estonian World paid a short visit to the ferry, “Isabelle”, moored at the Port of Tallinn and used to accommodate Ukrainian refugees. Owned by the Estonian shipping company, Tallink, the ferry currently hosts over 1,500 refugees, approximately 40 per cent of them children.

The temporary solution is paid for by the Estonian state and the Estonian Social Board’s staff is helping look after the Ukrainians on board. There are doctors, psychologists and pastors; even a kindergarten was set up on the ship. The refugees are free to visit the city, although the ferry’s ramp is officially closed between midnight and 5 AM (however, no one is left outside if late).

Estonia has accepted over 37,000 Ukrainian refugees since 22 February. Approximately 25,000 of them have stayed in Estonia, while the others were on transit. Over 4,000 refugees, 1,500 of them children, are temporarily accommodated by the state.

A Tallink ferry hosts over 1,500 Ukrainian refugees, approximately 40 per cent of them children. Photo by Silver Tambur.

11 May 2022 – A Ukrainian cultural day to be held in Tallinn

The Estonia-based Ukrainians will share their culture and traditions with the local and international community at the Ukrainian Cultural Day, due to take place by the Tallinn TV Tower on 28 May.

A poster of the Ukrainian Cultural Day, due to take place by the Tallinn TV Tower on 28 May.

11 May 2022 – The Associated Press to move part of its workforce from Russia to Tallinn

The Associated Press, a global news agency, will in the coming weeks move part of its workforce from Russia to Tallinn, the Estonian capital. “Part of our employees will move to Tallinn in the next few week, to cover the Baltics and the wider region,” a spokesman of the agency Lauren Easton, told Delfi. The AP won’t close its Russia office entirely, though. Thousands of foreign and Russian journalists have left Russia after 24 February when Russia started its unprovoked war in Ukraine.

9 May 2022 – Estonia to sing for Ukraine on 22 May

A joint choir, “Estonia Sings for Ukraine”, is to gather at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds on 22 May to sing in support of Ukraine. The organisers welcome all singers to join the choir, provided they pre-register.

The joint choir is led by Hirvo Surva and the aim of the call is to get ten thousand singers together. The iconic Ukrainian tune “Oi u luzi chervona kalyna” (“The Red Viburnum in the Meadow”) will be performed, which composer Jonas Tarm has made a four-voice choral arrangement. The video recording will take place on Sunday, 22 May at 5 PM.

A screenshot from the “Estonia Sings for Ukraine” web page.

9 May 2022 – Svetlana Stsur: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has devaluated the victory over Nazism

Svetlana Stsur, an Estonian Russian, writes in an opinion piece that she understands the sentiment around 9 May and its meaning for the identity of many Russian-speaking people around the world – but, quoting a short story from her young Ukrainian friend, Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine has devaluated the meaning of the date.

9 May 2022 – Many Estonian Russians commemorate the victory over Nazi Germany

On 9 May, Russia commemorates the victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. In Estonia, thousands of Estonian Russians usually bring flowers to the old Soviet-erected war monuments, such as the Bronze Soldier monument in Tallinn. Because of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, the date was this year under closer than usual scrutiny, and the monuments were under increased police surveillance.

Estonian World’s photographer Andrea Forlani paid a visit by the Bronze Soldier monument to see what was happening. At the time of his visit, all was calm – and at some point, there seemed to be more police than people.

8 May 2022 – An Estonian NGO sends two truckloads of 4x4s to Ukraine

An Estonian NGO, United Delivery Mission, has sent two truckloads of cars to Ukraine’s armed forces. The NGO was created for the purpose of helping Ukraine’s military with SUVs and other equipment. The NGO said it was “already working on putting together the next trailer” and people “can support its efforts by donating or by offering reasonably priced SUVs”.

A 4×4 supplied to Ukraine’s military by an Estonian NGO, United Delivery Mission.

8 May 2022 – Estonia’s central bank issues a two-euro coin designed by a Ukrainian refugee

The Bank of Estonia, the central bank of Estonia and a member of the euro area central bank system, is planning to issue into circulation a two-euro coin dedicated to Ukraine. The coin was designed by Daria Titova – a young Ukrainian war refugee who is studying at the Estonian Academy of Arts.

Titova, originally from Kharkiv, explained the coin featured a girl as a symbol of tenderness, protecting a bird in her hand. The design also features an ear of wheat. The coin with the special design should enter circulation towards the end of 2022.

Estonia’s central bank issues a two-euro coin designed by a Ukrainian refugee, Daria Titova.

6 May 2022 – Baltic foreign ministers visit Ukraine

Eva-Maria Liimets, Edgars Rinkēvičs and Gabrielius Landsbergis – the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian foreign ministers, respectively – are on a visit to Ukraine today. The ministers, who had meetings with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, expressed the “unwavering support of the Baltic states to Ukraine”, the Estonian foreign ministry said.

Eva-Maria Liimets, Edgars Rinkēvičs and Gabrielius Landsbergis – the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian foreign ministers, respectively – visit Ukraine on 6 May 2022. Photo by the Estonian foreign ministry.

4 May 2022 – Hundreds of Ukrainian kids need to go to court in Estonia

Hundreds of Ukrainian kids who have escaped the Russian unprovoked war in their homeland need to go to court in Estonia because their parents are not with them, but they need legal custodians to apply for benefits, Estonian weekly Maaleht writes. As of last week, some 11,000 Ukrainian kids had arrived in Estonia as war refugees; 78% of them are younger than 13. About 1,600 kids don’t have a legal custodian – their parents didn’t have the chance to leave Ukraine, but they sent their kids with their relatives, neighbours or acquaintances.

Helen Jõks, an official at the Estonian social ministry, told Maaleht that every child needs a legal custodian who can make decisions for the kid – like apply for benefits, make medical decisions or get the child other help. So the Estonian courts will have to appoint a temporary custodian to a child who doesn’t have their parents with them. Most of the time, the custodian will be the person with whom the kid arrived in Estonia.

3 May 2022 – Expert: Russia may need half a million service members to win in Ukraine

According to Leo Kunnas, an Estonian MP (EKRE) and a reserve lieutenant colonel, Russia may declare a general mobilisation in order to win in Ukraine. He told Delfi that if Russia indeed wants to win in Ukraine militarily, then it needs at least a three-fold superiority against Ukraine – which means half a million service members. However, if the general mobilisation is declared, it will take a few months to get them together and to arm and equip them, Kunnas added.

According to Western intelligence information, Russia may declare war against Ukraine on 9 May – the day Russia celebrates the victory in the Second World War. Kunnas said to Delfi that people should take this intel seriously as, up to now, the Western intelligence has been quite precise about Russia’s actions in Ukraine. So far, Russia has called its unprovoked aggression against Ukraine a “military operation” and “denazification”.

However, Kunnas also said that it would be impossible for Russia to take Ukraine in its entirety. “I’ll tell you right away, this is an impossibility. It’s not possible to take entire Ukraine. Even if Russia could take every Ukrainian city and demolish every battalion, even then they wouldn’t conquer Ukraine. It’s always easier to defend one’s own country. People want to do it. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian men and women are very motivated to do that.”

Estonian MP and reserve lieutenant colonel Leo Kunnas. Photo by Ave Maria Mõistlik, shared under the CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.
Estonian MP and reserve lieutenant colonel Leo Kunnas. Photo by Ave Maria Mõistlik, shared under the CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.

3 May 2022 – Estonia’s FM: No ban on giving Israeli weapons to Ukraine

According to the Estonian foreign minister, Eva-Maria Liimets, Jerusalem hasn’t blocked Tallinn from giving Israel weapons to Ukraine, contrary to some reports published earlier this year. “I am not aware of any obstacles at the moment,” Liimets said, according to Jerusalem Post, adding that if there was such a ban, she would have raised it in her meetings with Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid and defense minister Benny Gantz. “So far, we have gotten permission from all countries of origin for what we wanted to donate.”

Estonia has bought a lot of weapons from Israel in the past year, including more than 500 Spike anti-tank missiles and the Blue Spear missile system for coastal defense, the Post reported.

For updates from April, March and February, please see a separate article.

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